Prosecution service to decide on case against Gerry Adams

SF leader insists he is innocent of any involvement in murder of Jean McConville

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams at a press conference in Belfast last night following his release from custody. He said much of the questioning centred on claims contained in the Boston College tapes. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams at a press conference in Belfast last night following his release from custody. He said much of the questioning centred on claims contained in the Boston College tapes. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Mon, May 5, 2014, 01:00

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, who was released from Antrim police station yesterday evening after five days in custody, has again insisted he was “innocent” of any involvement in the murder of Jean McConville.

Mr Adams was driven from Antrim station about 7.30pm yesterday after having spent almost 96 hours in custody from Wednesday evening. The PSNI said he was “released pending a report” to the North’s Public Prosecution Service.

It will now be for the North’s deputy director of public prosecutions Pamela Atchison to decide if the PSNI has built up a case against Mr Adams in relation to the 1972 murder of Ms McConville that would stand up in a court.

Mr Adams said last night there was no basis for criminal charges to be made against him.

Handling the case
A spokeswoman for the prosecution service last night confirmed that the North’s Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory, who was Mr Adams’s solicitor, would not be handling the case, with Ms Atchison having ultimate responsibility on whether to not to prosecute. Mr Adams said that much of the questioning centred on claims contained in the “dubious” Boston tapes, Boston College’s oral history of the Troubles, while he was also asked about his involvement in republicanism going back decades.

“I reject all the allegations made against me in these tapes,” said Mr Adams. He added that he was “innocent” of any involvement in the abduction, murder and secret burial of widowed mother of 10 Ms McConville.

Mr Adams, speaking at a press conference in west Belfast, said the attempt to blame him for involvement in the murder was part of a “malicious, sustained, untruthful and sinister campaign” against him.

He offered his sympathy to the “McConvilles and all who have suffered at the hands of republicans”.

Asked what it was like spending the time in custody he said: “It was okay.” He added that over the four nights and five days police did 33 taped interviews with him. He said the food was “uneatable”.

Mr Adams and his Sinn Féin colleagues were forced to leave Antrim station by another entrance due to a protest by more than 100 loyalists at the front gate. Police Land Rovers, apparently an escort for Mr Adams’s car, began leaving the front gate but were prevented when loyalists staged a sit-down protest on the road at about 7.20 pm.

Less than 10 minutes later PSNI Land Rovers escorted Mr Adams out of the heavily fortified station through an alternative exit. When the crowd spotted the sirens of the police vehicles they began chanting and shouting, and singing “cheerio”.

Police file
The prosecution service must now await a police file on the Adams case from the PSNI. Processing the case could take months, which could allow for the defusing of tensions over Mr Adams’s arrest.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and British prime minister David Cameron spoke by phone last night. The Taoiseach’s spokesman said the two leaders “agreed that the rule of law has to take its course”.

The spokesman said Mr Kenny and Mr Cameron “agreed that people should stay calm and that there should not be any over-reaction” to recent events.